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Merchant, J. (2015). Foetal Trauma, Body Memory and Early Infant Communication: A Case Illustration. J. Anal. Psychol., 60(5):601-617.

(2015). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 60(5):601-617


Foetal Trauma, Body Memory and Early Infant Communication: A Case Illustration

John Merchant, Ph.D.

This paper presents the complex case of a male patient who started life as an unwanted pregnancy and adoptee in an era of socio-cultural shame and blame. When able to contact his birth mother later in life, he experienced a number of confronting synchronicities as well as visions which he felt were related to failed abortion attempts and to other pre- and post-natal events.

The case material lends weight not only to Freud's, Ehrenwald's and FitzHerbert's assertions that the earliest form of mother-infant communications is telepathic in nature but that this mode of communication can be retained if emotional trauma inhibits normal developmental processes. Contemporary neuroscience research is presented supporting the hypothesis that emotional memory can become imbedded in the psyche/soma of the foetus. Such memory traces can later emerge into imagery and/or words if the traumatic impingement has been substantial enough and if other defensive strategies are in place.

Clinical implications are then suggested regarding analysts’ attention to the emotional conditions underpinning their patients’ conceptions and foetal development; the connection to projective identification components of the countertransference as being aspects of the earliest telepathic mother/infant communication channel and the need for reductive analyses in analyst training programmes.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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